Facing redundancy can be an unpleasant situation, but one that many people will experience at some point during their careers.
For David Wilkins, being made redundant five times during his 20 years in the pharmaceutical research industry forced him to rethink his career path and start viewing self-employment as a possible option.
Realising he knew nothing about how to turn his photography hobby into a viable business, David turned to Outset Cornwall for support.
“Going through a redundancy situation was not something I wanted to do again, so I thought starting my own business, based around photography, would help me avoid that,” says David.
Enrolling on the programme at an initial information session, David attended the Introduction to Enterprise workshops, which helped him explore his business ideas, before continuing on to the Business Start-Up sessions, where he learnt more of the key skills he needed to set up and grow his new business.
After completing the Outset programme, David put his new business skills and what he’d learned specifically about marketing, web design and sales into practice, launching Alchemy Photography in 2011.
David’s initial plan was to sell landscape photography and offer a canvas printing service, but when a friend asked him to photograph their wedding in April 2011, he decided to completely change the focus of his business.
However, a lack of funds posed a real issue for David in terms of buying the specialist equipment he needed, so he decided to approach Outset Cornwall again, this time for financial help.
“I found I really enjoyed wedding photography, so I decided to make it the central part of my business,” says David.
“I knew I would need more specialist equipment for this, such as lenses and lighting, so I applied for a micro grant available through Outset Cornwall at that time, and was lucky enough to be awarded one. Since then, I haven’t looked back!”
Wedding photography now accounts for 90% of David’s business and since launching, David has photographed over 100 weddings, working on 57 in 2013 alone. He has also been described as one of the best wedding photographers in Cornwall by England’s number one wedding blog, Monty Manatee.
Focusing on wedding photography has given David’s business much higher profit margins and also increased the financial stability of his business, making his change in direction a worthwhile and profitable move.
David comments: “Now my business has gone from strength to strength, but I couldn’t have done it without the initial support and encouragement from Outset Cornwall. They really helped in giving me the tools I needed to get started.”